This is the first 5th Monday I’ve had since starting my blog, and since I aim for only 4 ministry stories each month, I’m doing something a little different in this post. For every 5th Monday or Friday from now on, I’ll do a 5-er post. My only rules are that it must involve stories and the number 5 in some way.
For today, I’m reminiscing on my childhood love affair with stories. Below are the top 5 books I remember loving as a child. If you have any dreamy little girls in your life, these would make great late Christmas or early New Year’s gifts!
#5: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
What can I say? I was an animal-lover through and through. Looking back, though, this is a really depressing book, and I’m not entirely sure why I loved it so much. I will say that I’m pretty sure half the reason I wanted a horse when I was little was so that I could be a better owner than the many cruel/neglectful owners in this book.
#4: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading these books to me before bed. I would get a sick sense of dread when Laura did something she shouldn’t have and was truly revolted when I found out what river leeches were in book 3. One Christmas, we made pancake men like Ma Ingalls did, and another time we tried to make molasses candy in pans of freshly scooped snow (with less than stellar results). The great thing about these books is how much pioneer history is woven throughout – I learned way more than I ever planned to. Anyone want to know how to make a cornhusk doll?
#3: Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
I started these books in 5th grade when several classmates began talking about them, and because I was an overachieving bookworm who wasn’t put off by the series’ thickness, I dove right in and finished the whole series in just a couple weeks. Strangely, though, the part I remember enjoying most wasn’t the ultimate battle between good and evil, Sam’s faithful friendship to Frodo, or the triumphant return home to the Shire. No, my favorite part was the appendices. Go figure.
In the appendices, I had the chance to read what happened after “The End.” I learned about Aragorn’s reign as king, Sam’s rise to mayor, and Legolas and Gimli’s journey into the West. My desire to see all of my favorite characters find their happy endings was fulfilled, and I was satisfied.
#2: Lady & the Tramp based on the Walt Disney movie
This one earns the #2 slot for the sheer number of times I read it – or rather had it read to me. In fact, this was the book that convinced my 3-year-old Sunday school teacher that I could read. After begging my parents to read it to me half a billion times, I had it memorized word-for-word, page-turn by page-turn. I have to admit, I don’t remember it very well now, but I still love the movie. Brings back all of those warm, fuzzy, Friday-night movie rental memories.
#1: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
I realize this is an odd choice for top children’s book. The Last Battle may be the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, but usually, it is overshadowed by its predecessor, The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe. However, for me, this is the one that made the biggest impact. The reason for that is found in this quote:
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
In The Last Battle, I found my first true glimpse of heaven, and it thrilled me. It was more than a flimsy vision of gold streets. It was an adventure, realized in concrete images I could understand. Most importantly, heaven had none of the endings that I hated so much. Imagining the best story ever written going on forever and ever was a dream come true for this 8-year-old story-lover. And despite all the reading I’ve done since then, I still haven’t found a description of heaven to top this one.
Well, that’s my list of top childhood books. What were your favorite books as a child?